Understanding Regulation: Theory, Strategy, and Practice

By Robert Baldwin; Martin Cave | Go to book overview

21
Accountability

Regulatory accountability is particularly important when clear legislative mandates are hard to identify and when the divergent interests of various groups of consumers and producers have to be balanced. Accountability matters all the more when there are fundamental disagreements about the purposes of regulation--whether, for instance, economic efficiency should be the sole aim of utilities regulators or whether social objectives should be taken on board.1

This chapter concentrates on the utilities but raises points of relevance to other sectors. The main focus will be the accountability of the regulators and proposals for reform on that front. The direct holding to account of the providers of regulated utility services will, however, also be considered. Questions of due process and fairness, though at points closely linked with issues of accountability, will be examined in Chapter 22.


1. Regulators and their Accountability

In recent years there have been numerous calls for the regulators, and particularly the utilities regulators to be made more accountable.2 The

____________________
1
Compare the efficiency-based approach of C. D. Foster, Privatisation, Public Ownership and the Regulation of Natural Monopoly ( Oxford 1992), ch. 9, with the 'social' approach of P. Hain, Regulating for the Common Good ( London, 1994); or T. Prosser, Law and the Regulators ( Oxford, 1997), ch. 1, and "'Privatisation, Regulation and Public Services'" ( 1994) 3 Judicial Review3 at 8-17. On accountability generally see A. Ogus, Regulation: Legal Form and Economic Theory ( Oxford, 1994), ch. 6; Foster, Priuatisation, ch. 8.2; C. Graham, Is there a Crisis in Regulatory Accountability? ( London, 1996); N. Lewis, "'Regulating Non-governmental bodies'", in J. Jowell and D. Oliver (eds.), The Changing Constitution ( 2nd edn., Oxford, 1989). For recent governmental discussion see the DTI Green Paper, A Fair Deal for Consumers: Modernising the Framework for Utility Regulation, Cm. 3898 ( London, Mar. 1998) (hereafter DTI Green Paper 1998) and DTI, A Fair Deal for Consumers: Modernising the Framework for Utility Regulation: The Response to Consultation ( DTI, London, July 1998) (hereafter DTI White Paper 1998).
2
Suggestion for reform have come from all quarters of the political spectrum--see e.g. C. G. Veljanovski, The Future of Industry Regulation in the UK ( London, 1993); Adam Smith Institute , Who Will Regulate the Regulators? ( London, 1992); Hain, Regulating for the Common Good; Centre for the Study of Regulated Industries, Regulating the Utilities: Accountability and Processes ( London, 1994); D. Helm, "'Reforming the Regulatory Frameworks'", paper presented to OXERA Conference on Regulatory Reform ( 17 June 1993); National Consumer Council, Paying the Price ( London, 1993) and Regulating the PublicUtilities

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Understanding Regulation: Theory, Strategy, and Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Tables x
  • Abbreviations xi
  • I- Introduction 1
  • 1- FUNDAMENTALS 7
  • 2: Why Regulate? 9
  • 3: Explaining Regulation 18
  • 4: Regulatory Strategies 34
  • 5: Who Regulates? Institutions and Structures 63
  • 6- What is 'Good' Regulation? 76
  • 7- The Cost-Benefit Testing Of Regulation 86
  • 8: Enforcing Regulation 96
  • 9: Setting Standards 118
  • 10: Self-Regulation 125
  • 11: Regulating Risks 138
  • 12: Regulation in the European Context 150
  • 13: Regulatory Competition and Coordination 180
  • 14: British Utilities Regulation 190
  • II- PARTICULAR CONCERNS 201
  • 15: Price Setting in Natural Monopolies 203
  • 16- Regulation Versus Competition 210
  • 17- Price-Capping Mechanisms 224
  • 18- Measuring Efficiency: Benchmarking, Yardsticking, and Performance 239
  • 19: Regulating Quality 248
  • 20: Franchising and its Limitations 257
  • 21: Accountability 286
  • 22: Procedures and Fairness 314
  • 23- Conclusions 334
  • Bibliography 337
  • Index 359
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